Visual imagery is essential in the media and is broadly recognised to increase attention, recall information, improve comprehension and even change adherence to clinical guidelines. Despite the social debate about vaccination, the study of vaccine media images has received little attention. Therefore, this study aims to analyse the visual content of newspaper coverage of vaccines and to identify some key patterns that might be more likely to influence audience understanding. Coverage from 2012 to 2017 about vaccines was retrieved from the flagship Spanish newspapers El Pais and El Mundo. An imagery content analysis was undertaken for 131 articles. Results reveal that images are commonly used in the print media, appearing in 56% (n = 74) of articles about vaccines. Images were mostly located in the top area of the page (p < .001), and each image occupied about 28% of the total surface in the page. Each article included 1 image on average, and 76% (n = 64) of visual resources were photography and the frames 'human interest' and 'conflict' were the most frequent ones. The themes of the images focused most commonly on the action of vaccination, vaccines as such, the biological aspects of the vaccine and research. The study provides descriptive knowledge related to the use of visual contents coverage about vaccines in the print media. We suggest further research on the influence of visual contents in the context of vaccines as well as a collaboration between public health experts and designers to create effective visual contents and messages.
vaccine; media; newspaper; imagery; photography; pictures; communication